Innovation and changeDigital TransformationTechnology and systems key catalyst to digitalisation

Technology and systems key catalyst to digitalisation

Technology and systems are key priorities for the public sector when it comes to digitisation over the coming year, report confirms

According to a new study on digitalisation of the public sector, technology and systems are helping councils to kick-start their efforts.

The new study, commissioned by Yotta, a global connected asset management software and services provider, found that almost half (49%) of IT decision-makers say implementing new digital technology is among their organisation’s two main digitalisation priorities over the next year. Similarly, 39% of those polled cited upgrading existing infrastructure as a priority, as technology and systems are seen as the ideal way to enable the councils to achieve savings and efficiency benefits.

Budget restrictions the top barrier

However, while 75% of IT decision-makers in the public sector say that digital transformation is one of their organisation’s top three strategic priorities today, nearly half of those polled (49%) said budget restrictions was the top barrier to achieving it.

The research also identified in-house skills shortages (highlighted by 36% of respondents) and outdated systems architecture (referenced by 35%) as major barriers to digital transformation.

Phil Oldbury, Director of Customer Service, Yotta said: “There is huge pressure on every public sector organisation today to do more with less. They have got tighter budgets to meet and fewer people in-house to deliver core services. Some councils clearly see this lack of funding and resources as a barrier to their digital transformation efforts.

“Yet, the public has growing expectations in terms of the quality of service delivery,” he adds. “All of this is effectively pushing organisations to move to digital; deliver efficiencies, improve quality and productivity; and cut costs. It is rapidly becoming a strategic necessity.”

More agile service delivery

The end goal of investment in technology and systems is more agile service delivery. Nearly half (45%) of IT decision-makers polled number improved operational efficiency among the main benefits they expect their organisation to achieve from digital transformation in the future. Respondents also anticipate that the approach will result in improved engagement with the people using public services. 35% expect enhanced service delivery to public and other stakeholders to be among the main benefits their organisation will achieve.

“To be a success over the long-term, though, it is important that digital transformation is a truly organisation-wide initiative,” continued Oldbury. “Its success depends on organisations taking their staff along with them on the journey, training them to understand the technology and ensuring they appreciate why the organisation is changing its approach. But it is also key that initiatives not only have senior management buy-in but are also driven from the top.”

Additional key findings from the survey are:

  1. Digital transformation is on the radar of every public sector organisation: The majority of organisations were somewhere on the journey, with nearly a third of IT decision-makers, 29% saying ‘we have fully optimised our digital approach’. Just 1% of IT decision-makers claimed their organisation had not yet started on the journey and had no plans to do so. A further 13% said that while they had plans to do so, they had not yet started.
  2. Biggest drivers of digital transformation: The ‘opportunity to introduce operational efficiencies’ was seen as the biggest driver, referenced by 33% of respondents in total. Enhanced engagement and collaboration are also seen as key drivers. The ‘need to be more accessible to the public and other stakeholders’ was cited by 29% of respondents. ‘Budgetary pressures’ and ‘need to be in line with Government ‘Digital by Default’ approach trailed further behind. Each was cited by 24% of the sample.
  3. Technology areas that will be most important to achieve digital transformation: ‘Security systems’ and ‘cloud infrastructures’ come top of the list, each highlighted by 41%. ‘Data sharing’ scores highly too, with 35% referencing it.
  4. Biggest impact of digitisation over the next five years: Highlighting the importance of enhanced connectivity in driving operational efficiencies, back office services was referenced by 42% of the sample, second only to health and social care (44%).
  5. Digital transformation should really be an organisation- wide initiative, driven from the top of a council or local authority. In this context, it is interesting that 25% of respondents cite ‘head of information systems division/CIO/IT director (the top answer overall) and just 13% chief executive.
  6. The picture on environmental services is positive. Just 13% of respondents said that their organisation had ‘not yet started the digital transformation journey’ while 24% said they had completed it. Most respondents (61%) were somewhere on the journey.

On similar lines, the public sector is almost now nervous to flip the switch and send public sector transformation projects live, says Max Finch, Lead Solution Architect at Servita. A successful digital transformation of the government will require thinking and adapting like an end-user – Steve Thorn, Executive Director, Digital, Civica.

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